Angam: A Sinhalese Martial Art in Need of Wider Transmission

Angam Performance © Buddika Mahesh Kodikara

Angam (also known as angampora) is a top-level Sinhalese martial art. Included in the Sri Lankan national ICH list, the techniques of this indigenous combat performance rely on the strength of human body incorporating shots, punches, locks, jumps, and wrestling elements. Yoga, meditation, and magic are also fundamental parts of angam. Angam fighters require elevated physical strength and flexibility as well as mental strength to channel spiritual power. It improves practitioners’ personality, endurance, patience, and mental strength.

Legends would tell that Sinhalese kings mastered angam and intensified their support to promote it. After the Kandyan monarchy, the last kingdom of Sri Lanka, angam was transmitted under two main generations, sudaliya and murawalliya.

Older than Sri Lanka’s written history, angam is highly endangered of disappearing as there are few practitioners left to transmit the art to future generations. Mr. Vageesha Bandara Wicramawansha is one such angam master. He and his team of roughly seventy angam masters performed at the Janakala Kendraya Premises, Battaramulla, Sri Lanka on 26 August 2017. The cultural show was organized by the ICH panel of the Art Council of Sri Lanka as a part of its monthly ICH performance program.